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7 Always Free Azure Resources You Need to Know About

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Getting hands-on experience with Azure can help you learn the technology and make you a more desirable job candidate. Azure is a great cloud platform to learn as it is one of the most widely used platforms by organizations worldwide. In this blog, you’ll learn about 7 free resources from Microsoft in the Azure Free Tier.  

What is the Azure Free Tier? 

The Azure Free Tier provides you the ability to explore and try out Azure services free of charge up to specified limits for each service.  

The Free Tier is comprised of three different types of offerings, a 12-month Free Tier, an Always Free offer, and short-term trials.  

  • Services with a 12-month Free Tier allow you to use the product for free up to specified limits for one year from the date the account was created.  
  • Services with an Always Free offer allow you to use the product for free up to specified limits as long as you are an Azure customer.  
  • Services with a short-term trial are free to use for a specified period of time or up to a one-time limit depending on the service selected.  

If your application use exceeds the free tier limits, you simply pay standard, pay-as-you-go service rates. 

The Microsoft Azure Free Tier applies to participating services across global regions. Your free usage under the Azure Free Tier is calculated each month across all regions and automatically applied to your bill – free usage does not accumulate. 

What do I need to do to qualify for the Azure Free Tier? 

The Azure free account is available to all new Azure customers who have not previously had an Azure free account and received a $200 credit. 

All you need is a phone number, a credit card or a debit card (non-prepaid), and a Microsoft account or a GitHub account. Only credit cards are accepted in Hong Kong and Brazil. 

There is a limit of one account with free services and $200 credit per new customer. 

How many Free Tier – Always Free services are there? 

Currently, there are 45 Always Free services available globally that range from Compute to Database to Mobile, and many more. 

Let’s examine some of the most popular and useful Always Free services:  

Amazon Cosmos DB  

Amazon Cosmos DB is fully managed NoSQL database service with single-digit millisecond performance and 99.999-percent availability, backed by SLAs, automatic and instant scalability, and open-source APIs for MongoDB and Cassandra. 

Use Cases: 

  • Building internet-scale applications supporting user-content metadata and caches that require high concurrency and connections for millions of users, and millions of requests per second. 
  • Scaling throughput and concurrency for media and entertainment workloads such as real-time video streaming and interactive content, and delivering lower latency with multi-region replication across Azure Regions. 

What do you get per month? 

  • 25 GB of Storage 
  • 1000 request units per second 

Azure Event Grid  

Azure Event Grid is a Compute service for managing routing of all events from any source to any destination. 

Use Cases: 

  • Instantly trigger a serverless function to run image analysis each time a new photo is added to a blob storage container. 
  • Building event-driven functions for easy communication between decoupled services, allowing you to execute code at the capacity you need, as you need it, scaling to match your data volume automatically and enabling custom event triggers.  

What do you get per month? 

  • 100,000 free operations per month 

Microsoft Defender for Cloud (Azure Security Center)  

Microsoft Defender for Cloud (Azure Security Center) is a Cloud Security Posture Management and workload protection solution that finds weak spots across your cloud configuration, helps strengthen the overall security posture of your environment, and can protect workloads across multi-cloud and hybrid environments from evolving threats. 

Use Cases: 

  • Use built-in policies and prioritized recommendations that are aligned to key industry and regulatory standards or build custom requirements that meet your organization’s needs. Use actionable insights to automate recommendations and help ensure that resources are configured securely and meet your compliance needs. 
  • Protect against evolving threats across multicloud and hybrid environments. You will be able to understand vulnerabilities with insights from security research and secure your critical workloads, in VMs, storage, containers, and across the platform itself, to automate and streamline your security administration from a single place. 

What do you get per month? 

  • Continuous assessment and security recommendations 
  • Secure Score for Azure and AWS environments 

Azure Active Directory (Azure AD)  

Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) is a enterprise identity service providing single sign-on and multi-factor authentication.  

Use Cases: 

  • Whether people are on-site or remote, give them seamless access to all their apps so they can stay productive from anywhere. Automate workflows for user lifecycle and provisioning. Save time and resources with self-service management. 
  • Safeguard user credentials by enforcing strong authentication and conditional access policies. Efficiently manage your identities by ensuring that the right people have the right access to the right resources. 

What do you get per month? 

  • 50,000 stored objects with single sign-on (SSO) to all cloud apps 

Azure Arc 

Azure Arc will organize, govern, and secure Windows and Linux servers, SQL Server, and Kubernetes clusters across datacenters, the edge, and multicloud environments in Azure. 

Use Cases: 

  • Gain central visibility, operations, and compliance through centrally managing a wide range of resources including Windows and Linux servers, SQL server, Kubernetes clusters, and Azure services, as well as performing virtual machine (VM) lifecycle management for your Azure Stack HCI and VMware environments from a centralized location. 
  • Run Azure services anywhere by deploying Azure Arc–enabled Azure SQL and PostgreSQL Hyperscale on any Kubernetes distribution and on any cloud. 

What do you get per month? 

  • Free Azure control plane functionality for resources outside Azure, search and indexing for Azure Arc-enabled resources 

Azure Automation 

Azure Automation has the ability to control hybrid environments, integrate management systems using serverless runbooks and ensure consistent management of Windows and Linux systems.  

Use Cases: 

  • Monitor update compliance across Azure, on-premises, and other cloud platforms for Windows and Linux. Schedule deployments to orchestrate the installation of updates within a defined maintenance window. 
  • Write runbooks graphically in PowerShell or Python to integrate Azure services and other public systems required for deploying, configuring, and managing your end-to-end processes. Orchestrate across on-premises environments using a hybrid runbook worker to deliver on-demand services. Trigger automation from ITSM, DevOps, and monitoring systems to fulfill requests and ensure continuous delivery and management. 

What do you get per month? 

  • 500 minutes of job runtime 

Azure SignalR Service  

Azure SignalR Service builds real-time communications into your web application over HTTP. This real-time functionality allows the service to push content updates to connected clients, such as a single page web or mobile application. As a result, clients are updated without the need to poll the server or submit new HTTP requests for updates. 

Use Cases: 

  • High-frequency data updates: gaming, voting, polling, auction. 
  • Real-time location on map: logistic tracking, delivery status tracking, transportation status updates, GPS apps. 

What do you get per month? 

  • 20 concurrent connections per unit and 20,000 messages 

With these, and the 38 others that are currently available, you can get your Organization’s Azure tenant up and running in no time and start to consume and provide cloud services at scale. 

These free Azure resources will help you get the hands on experience you require. Learning AWS too? Check out these need-to-know AWS free resources 

If you are looking for more information on Azure cloud services and how to deploy and manage them then check out these ITProTV Microsoft courses 

PMBOK 7th Edition and the PMP Exam: Is there change coming? 

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The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is considered by most organizations to be the premiere certification for proving your knowledge of proper project management skills and understanding of project management methodology. As a project manager and project management instructor for almost 20 years, I can tell you that having the PMP is an incredible boost to your career and helps to open doors to many opportunities worldwide. 

Continue reading PMBOK 7th Edition and the PMP Exam: Is there change coming?